Challenge

My poem called ‘Challenge’ about my daughter was published on the Celebrating Change website.

Guest editor Degna Stone was attracted to this poem because it shows “the ever changing relationship between a parent and child. The challenge of responding to someone who is constantly evolving to find their place within the world.”

 

I knew she was a girl before she arrived.

Didn’t have to tell me.

A father knows these things.

Don’t let nobody tell you different.

 

I think the first word she said was ‘Why?’

Not ‘Mummy’ or ‘Daddy’ or ‘Love’

but ‘Why?’

 

I take her abroad.

She sits,

amongst the sand dunes,

treads on castles,

watches,

takes in every moment, every movement.

Refuses to rhumba.

Not interested in the festivities –

celebrating

with the B-team performers

jovial about nothing more than

we’re on holiday

and they’re getting paid.

 

She looks with side eye

or over the rim of her glasses

saying the same thing every day

 

Are you up for the challenge of a daughter?

If not,

raise your game.

 

To the bemusement of her

white mother,

she calls herself Black.

 

To the frustration

of her black father,

she calls herself English.

 

To her Geography teacher,

she is a political genius.

 

All her questions are rhetorical.

‘You got a problem? Why?’

 

I sit waiting whilst

Women take her away.

 

For initiations:

 

Black girl make-up,

Black girl hair,

Black girl books,

Black girl role-models,

 

She comes back,

Looking exactly the same,

Sounding exactly the same,

No alternate versions necessary.

 

I ask myself why

she chose me to be her dad.

 

I have changed

She has not changed one iota

 

I have learnt I know nothing.